"Ever wonder what your kids are learning while they play?"
Often you will see adult themes in a child's play- taking care of babies, going to work, being a firefighter, driving, going to the grocery store or doctor. This is a child's way of trying to understand "going to work" or other activities parents do on a daily basis. The story lines often are very complicated when children are using props such as dress up clothes or other "real life" toys, especially with older preschoolers. They will assign everyone a role, describe the plot and explain who has what duties Coming up with all the pieces for the play really takes a lot of thought. Through such pretend play and interaction, children learn:
Dramatic Play is central to children's healthy development and learning during the preschool years. In the Dramatic Play area children break through restrictions of reality. To get the most out of their play. preschoolers need specific skills and a range of experiences to give them ideas for make believe. It is therefore useful to familiarize yourself with the 6 skills they use to pretend at a high level.
1. Role-play. Children have to be able to pretend to be someone or something else and mimic typical behaviors and verbal expressions. At a beginning level of role play, they simply imitate one or two actions of familiar people or animals: a mommy feeding her baby or a dog eating out of a dog dish. On an advanced level, they think of many different actions relevant to their chosen role and expand the types of roles they play.
2. Use of props. Children elaborate their role play by incorporating objects into their make believe. At a beginning level, they rely on real or realistic objects. Then they use objects to represent a prop (e.g., a paper plate for a steering wheel). At the advanced level of pretend ability they can substitute words and actions for real objects (e.g., they use hands in circular motion for steering wheel).
3.Make-Believe. In early Dramatic Play, children imitate actions they have seen others do, such as picking up a toy phone and talking on it. At a higher level, they are able to use words to describe and hen re-enact real-life actions or events. For example, a child might point to the table and say, "I'm the doctor. Pretend this is my office. "You be the mommy and bring your baby for a checkup." A child may also engage in fantasy - enacting situations that aren't drawn from real life such as slaying dragons or battling monsters.
4. Length of time. At first their involvement in Dramatic play may just last a few minutes before they move on to something else. They are not able to sustain their play. As children become more adept at role-playing, they can remain in play episodes for increasing amounts of time.
5.Interaction. Notice when and why children interact with one another in the Dramatic Play area. At an early stage, several children may be pretending at the same time but not interacting with each other except if they need a prop someone else is using. At a more advanced level, they have agreed on what roles they are playing and they relate to one another from the prospective of their chosen role.
6. Verbal Communication. Listen to what children say when they are engaged in Dramatic Play. If they are talking from the perspective of their role they are playing, and communicating with others about the make- believe situation, they are playing at a high level.
If you have time to watch this is a great video from Toddler 4.